The Aqua-Life Shrimp Harvester
Now With a Built-In Grader
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On November 17, 2005, at the 7th International Shrimp Culture Symposium and Exhibition in Panama, I interviewed Louie Owens, owner of Magic Valley Heli-Arc and Manufacturing, Inc., which produces the Aqua-Life Shrimp Harvester, a system for rapidly harvesting a large volume of shrimp without harming them. Magic Valley exports its harvesters and fish pumps to 38 countries, and they are being used to harvest almost every aquatic species being farmed.
Shrimp News: Hi Louie, tell me a little about your shrimp harvester.
Louie Owens: We have the highest capacity harvesting machine in the world. It’s called the Aqua-Life Harvester, and it comes in many versions, including versions specifically designed for shrimp. We began selling to shrimp farmers fifteen years ago. The first harvesters were tested in Texas, where we coordinated our sales with Marco Sales and Rich Sea-Pac, the largest shrimp breaders in Texas.
One of the problems back then was that shrimp were showing up at the processing plants a little soft because the harvesting process was taking so long. Shrimp farmers wanted something that would get the shrimp out of the water as quickly as possible, dewater them and get them on ice. Processors wanted something to stop the deterioration from the heat. Our harvesters resolved that problem.
Shrimp News: What kind of pump is at the heart of your harvesting machine?
Louie Owens: A high-capacity impeller pump. It’s placed into the drainage structure of the pond, and the pond is drained down.
In the old days, when they pulled the plug on a pond, all they could do was hope that the shrimp would drain out. In many cases, they did not and thousands of pounds of shrimp would get stranded on the mud at the bottom of the pond. Pickers would have to go into the pond and pick up the stranded shrimp. You could never get the taste or smell of mud off those shrimp and consequently they sold for a lower price. Farmers needed a system to control this problem.
With our system, you can turn the harvesting process into a closed system by recycling the harvest water back into the pondwithout interrupting the flow of shrimp and water toward the harvester. If you interrupt that flow, the shrimp move away from the drainage structure and you have to start the whole process over again and that can take hours and hours and hours. Our closed cycle harvesting system allows you to maintain the flow of water and shrimp out of the pond without interruption and eliminates the problem of stranding shrimp on the pond bottom at the end of the harvest.
Shrimp News: Why don’t the shrimp get all chopped up when they are going through the pump?
Louie Owens: The pump is like an Archimedes screw, the shrimp are lifted and flow along with the water, they never face a spinning blade. We started out transferring endangered fish species, so we know how to handle delicate products. When shrimp go through our impeller, they are not damaged. The shrimp come through in perfect condition and alive without any damage to their antennae or other appendages. In fact, our pumps are the only ones that can successfully transfer juvenile shrimp, and we’ve been doing that for seven years.
Shrimp News: I understand that you are going to add a grader to the harvester.
Louie Owens: Farmers want a system that will harvest the big shrimp and let the small shrimp go back to the pond and continue to grow. We have come up with a system to do that. One of the problems in developing the system, and one of the reasons that we’ve waited three or four years to introduce it, is that we didn’t want to integrate a grader within our harvester that would slow it down. Intensive shrimp farms use our systems to get a lot of shrimp out of a pond in a hurry. To put a grading system into the harvester would have destroyed that efficiency. We didn’t want to turn it into two machines, one for grading and one for high-capacity harvesting, so we finally came up with a design where inside the dewatering box there are bypass racks that cover the grader and allow the machine to be used strictly as a harvester without impeding its high capacity. Those racks can be removed to expose the grader, which can be set to let certain sizes go back to the pond. It essentially gives the customer two systems in one.
Shrimp News: Have you sold any of the new grader/harvesters yet?
Louie Owens: We shipped a system to a Penaeus monodon farm in Australia, and we have a system going into Colombia, where it will be used to harvest P. vannamei. Every time we tell a customer about the grader harvester, they want to buy one on the spot. We want to get some feedback on the first units before we start selling it.
Information: Louie Owens, Magic Valley Heli-Arc and Manufacturing, Inc., P.O. Box 511, 198 Freightway Street, Twin Falls, ID 83303 USA (phone 208-733-0503, fax 208-733-0544, email firstname.lastname@example.org, webpage www.aqualifeproducts.com).
Information on the Symposium: Manuel Alzamora, Grupo De Ferias, Congresos y Eventos, S.A., P.O. Box 0816, 02898 Panama 5, Panama (phone 507-236-5196, cellular 507-612-6919, fax 507-236-6652, email email@example.com, webpage www.gfce.org).
Source: Louis Owens. Interview by Bob Rosenberry, Shrimp News International. Panama. November 17, 2005.
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